President Obama has invited lesbian, gay,bisexual and transgender rights activists to meet him in light of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg this week to discuss the bill passed in Russian parliament that targets "homosexual propaganda".
The controverisal bill discourages the discussion of homosexuality among people younger than 18 and is called "Propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors". Vladimir Putin's government passed the bill on July 29th and decision makers have defended the law by saying that it does not outlaw the discussion of homosexuality but merely discourage it. The Russian President has also been criticised for signing a law on July 3rd that banned the adoption of children by same-sex parents.
Igor Kochetov of LGBT Network confirms that the organization will be accepting the invitation to meet the president at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Petersburg, along with many veteran human rights activists such as Lev Ponomarev and Lyudmila Alexeyeva, legal aid NGO director Pavel Chikov, and a St Petersburg LGBT group 'Coming Out'.
The propaganda law has outraged Russian liberals and supporters in the international community. The decision comes just five months before Russia are due to host the Winter Olympic Games in the coastal city of Sochi.
The gay community in the US have tried to put pressure on the Russian government by boycotting Russian vodka "Stolichnaya" in gay bars, however the brand of vodka is not actually distilled in Russia. Gay rights supporters have also tried to push the boycott of the Winter Olympic Games but Obama joins many leaders in calling the boycott of the event "unnecessary".
Plans to hold a one-on-one meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow before heading to the G20 summit; were abandoned by Obama earlier this year after Russia granted American whistle-blower, Edward Snowden asylum after he leaked secret details about U.S National Security Agency surveillance programmes.